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A Thousand Faces Chapter 7

Updated: Dec 28, 2023

Just when Mansik was about to walk away with a hopeful expression on his face. 

 

 

“Well, I don’t know who the actors are.” 

 

 

“You’re saying you must see the actors in person to know?” 

 

 

“Yes. Even with the same lines and emotions, it can be completely different depending on who delivers them.” 

 

 

“Hmm...” 

 

 

Typically, the order was to first determine the roles and script and then find actors who could embody the roles effectively. 

 

 

“To say that you can only know by seeing the actor. That’s a bit of a stretch, isn’t it?” 

 

 

Mansik tilted his head as if not fully convinced. 

 

 

“Well, I guess it does vary depending on the skill...” 

 

 

“It’s not just about looking at the actor. You have to see their life. The subtle habits and facial expressions that can’t be erased by acting. You can’t do it without knowing those things. Even the pitch of their voice can vary depending on the letters they speak.” 

 

 

Mansik narrowed his eyes for a moment. How can a person, not even a machine, judge such things? 

 

 

But he knew. He was denying it because it was a fact too hard to accept. 

 

 

His heart was beating at a faster pace than before. As is evident now, he wasn’t just excellent in stage and direction. 

 

 

“Later, look in the mirror and try to smile. When you smile without realizing it, your pupils dilate a little. That’s perfect for a murderer role.” 

 

 

“...” 

 

 

Mansik was at a loss for words. 

 

 

While he was dumbfounded, the boy chuckled a bit. 

 

 

“Just kidding. But would you like more?” 

 

 

The boy tidied up the empty plate in front of him. 

 

 

Lost in thought, Mansik didn’t even realize that the boy was getting up from his seat. 

 

 

“Aren’t you leaving?” 

 

 

“Huh...uh?” 

 

 

“Well then, I’ll go ahead. Thank you for the meal.” 

 

 

The boy, who bowed in farewell, exited the restaurant. 

 

 

Mansik had encountered numerous people in the theater world until now. He had seen many who struggled for years, only to eventually drop out without ever stepping on stage. In this field, only the naturally gifted ones could ultimately survive. 

 

 

Genius. 

 

 

Among the fleeting connections, there were those whose titles followed them. 

 

 

Nevertheless, today’s experience was a first. Moreover, that boy was a complete novice to the theater. 

 

 

Mansik couldn’t shake off the questions. Where on earth had that kid come from? 

 

 

Though there were still unresolved issues, when he came to his senses, all that remained was the neatly cleared empty plate left by the boy. 

 

 

** 

 

 

Dust flew in the wind. 

 

 

A boy peering at his reflection in the glass of a building. 

 

 

It was Junwoo. 

 

 

It had already been two years since that day. Junwoo was living in a house in the countryside arranged for him by Ilnam. 

 

 

During that time, there were certainly some changes, particularly in Junwoo’s appearance. 

 

 

His partially covered wavy hair remained the same, but he had grown about two inches taller in the meantime. Perhaps due to some physical work he hadn’t done before, his formerly slender body had developed, and his agile face, with the baby fat now gone, no longer resembled the Junwoo of the past. 

 

 

A mundane life. 

 

 

It was undoubtedly what he had longed for. 

 

 

However, for Junwoo, who had no social status, even finding a part-time job was not easy. While it might be easier to get by if he set his mind to it, since he had decided not to engage in such activities anymore, he spent his days working on construction sites, finding a somewhat satisfying routine. 

 

 

Well, it was somewhat satisfying. 

 

 

Junwoo knew. He knew what he longed for so desperately. 

 

 

The days when I watched movies all day long without a care in the world, the nights I spent at the video store. 

 

 

Junwoo wanted to watch a movie. He hadn’t seen one since coming here. 

 

 

But unexpectedly. 

 

 

“Hey, kiddo. Instead of just staying here at the age when you should be out playing, go out and have some fun, draw something. I heard there’s a new theater in the next neighborhood. Why don’t you check it out?” 

 

 

A theater. 

 

 

It had been a long time. 

 

 

There was no time to think about anything else. After finishing work, he walked for an hour in whatever direction his feet took him and soon found himself in front of a theater. The sound was flowing out through the door gap. 

 

 

It’s not a movie but a play. 

 

 

One man was deeply sighing in the empty audience seats, but that didn’t matter to Junwoo. 

 

 

The disappointment that it wasn’t a movie was fleeting, 

 

 

For Junwoo, it had been a long time since he felt such excitement. Through the screen of the recording, the powerful voices of the actors on the stage echoed throughout the theater. 

 

 

The play had a charm distinct from movies. The powerful energy of the actors unfolding in real-time on the stage, rather than in front of a camera, was shaking his once-empty heart. 

 

 

He even felt the impulse to stand on that stage for a moment. 

 

 

It began that day. His body moved on its own. As soon as the work was done, Junwoo headed to the theater. When he returned, he didn’t forget to express his gratitude, albeit in a small way. It was an appreciation for the theater that had brought a gift to his life, which had been nothing but free. 

 

 

Then, he got involved with a certain man. 

 

 

“What’s your name?” 

 

 

The man, who seemed to be associated with the theater, kept asking about him. Although his excessive familiarity was a bit annoying, every time Junwoo saw him, he was reminded of Ilnam. Despite his rough demeanor, the man seemed like a gentleman who wouldn’t harm anyone without reason. 

 

 

Watching him try to help for no apparent reason left Junwoo with mixed feelings. Are there still people like that? It seemed like life must have been quite challenging for him. 

 

 

Thinking about the man, Junwoo almost unconsciously headed toward the theater again. It seemed like a habit. 

 

 

But today, there were things he needed to do. 

 

 

** 

 

 

Junwoo looked up at the building. 

 

 

The reason he came here was to collect the money owed by the boss. Maybe the boss thought it would be easy to take advantage of him since he was young and living without his parents. 

 

 

He had let it slide a couple of times, not wanting to make a fuss, but this time, the amount he received was not even close to the original. They kept making excuses like the situation wasn’t good or it was expected when the team expands. It was irritating to hear these excuses, especially when it wasn’t clear who they were presenting them to. He had tried to overlook things if they came up with somewhat plausible excuses, just to show some understanding, but now it was getting out of hand. 

 

 

“You thought you could swindle me with that kind of trick?” 

 

 

When Junwoo opened the door, he saw that there was a drinking party and a mahjong game going on at the same time.  

 

 

The faces of the people there, who were all flushed, turned to Junwoo, who had suddenly appeared. 

 

 

“What’s up? Is he your son?” 

 

 

“I came to collect the money.” 

 

 

The other employees, who were already quite drunk, chimed in, laughing and saying things like, “So Kim-sajang had a secret child all along,” and “I knew it.” 

 

 

Manager Kim was sitting in the center. 

 

 

“Money? What money all of a sudden? Did you leave your money with me?” 

 

 

“Yes, I left it with you.” 

 

 

“What?” 

 

 

“It means you’ll give it to me later. Please give it. Exactly 58,700 won.” 

 

 

“Well, well, well. Look at you.” The boss smiled. “Kid, I know you’re young and naive, but ‘later’ is just a polite way of saying ‘no.’ I’m not giving you anything.” 

 

 

“You won’t give it then?” 

 

 

The manager’s face twisted as his words were cut off. 

 

 

“So, am I not getting the money?” 

 

 

Junwoo’s face expressed genuine disappointment. 

 

 

He gave him one last chance, even though he knew that the boss was cheating him and the other workers. Since he couldn’t do anything about it himself, he tried to get the other workers to rise up by letting them know what was going on. 

 

 

“But then, where would I find another job?” 

 

 

It was at that moment that... 

 

 

Thud! 

 

 

“Are you kidding me?! I can’t believe you’re shorting this kid?!”  

 

 

Junwoo blinked in confusion. It was the man he had seen at the theater. 

 

 

** 

 

 

An hour ago. 

 

 

Mansik was waiting for the boy in front of the theater. It was time for him to arrive, but the boy had not shown up for some reason. 

 

Unable to overcome his frustration, Mansik asked a nearby staff member. 

 

 

“Excuse me, do you know any good spots for a 17-year-old in this area? 

 

 

“Seventeen? Probably at school.” 

 

 

“Forget it. That kid doesn’t go to school. Think of a place worth visiting for a kid who works at a construction site instead of going to school. I wish I knew where he lives, seriously.” 

 

 

“Why are you asking?” 

 

 

“You don’t need to know.” 

 

 

“Well, then just go to the construction site and find out.” 

 

 

“?” 

 

 

“Didn’t the boss say he works at the construction site? So, he should be there. But who on earth are you talking about?” 

 

 

Right. Why didn’t I think of that? An anxious Mansik hastily ran towards the employee who had caught his attention. 

 

 

“Hey, where are you going, Mr. President! The meeting is about to start!” 

 

 

When Mansik finally arrived at the construction site, he was exhausted. The boy was nowhere to be seen. He grabbed the first worker he saw and asked. The worker pointed to a building across the way. Mansik didn’t bother to hear the rest of his answer. He took off running in that direction. 

 

 

He caught a glimpse of a familiar back of the head through a slightly ajar door. 

 

 

There he is. Mansik felt relieved. 

 

 

But what’s going on here? Mansik couldn’t bear it any longer after overhearing the conversation secretly, and he burst out. What’s this about taking money and whatnot? 

 

 

Junwoo, who had been cheated out of his money, just stood there silently while Mansik, who was even angrier than the boss, started shouting at the top of his lungs. 

 

 

“Hey, you guys! Are you so desperate for money that you’re taking it from a kid! You should be ashamed. I will report you all to the labor board, so be prepared to lose your jobs. Spit You scoundrels!” 

 

 

Thock.  

 

 

Mansik’s spit landed on the playing cards. 

 

 

Junwoo scratched his head. 

 

 

“What are you standing around for? Come on, let’s go. Are you wasting your time dealing with these lowlifes?” 

 

 

Mansik grabbed Junwoo and pulled him outside. 

 

 

*** 

 

 

Somehow, he found himself back in the theater with this man. 

 

 

Mansik, still not over his anger, muttered something beside him. The situation seemed a bit amusing to Junwoo. 

 

 

“Why are you so angry?” 

 

 

“Aren’t you feeling unjust? You should’ve taken the money. Should I report and have those guys rounded up?” 

 

 

“Why, mister?” 

 

 

“Just because. You probably wouldn’t know how to handle these things.” 

 

 

“What’s so great about it?” 

 

 

“Shut up. If an adult does something for you, you should be grateful and say ‘thank you,’ not complain.” 

 

 

Junwoo was puzzled by the man’s eagerness to help him. He didn’t seem to be after anything. It had been a long time since he had been treated with such kindness after dealing with so many spineless people. 

 

 

Moreover, the man seemed to vaguely understand his situation to some extent. Running around the construction site without parents and the mention of having no name, Junwoo thought he would just let it pass, but it seemed like the man had taken it to heart. 

 

 

Mansik glanced at the patch sticking out behind Junwoo’s neck. 

 

 

“Stop doing that and just work here.” 

 

 

Perhaps it was out of sympathy. Mansik blurted it out without even realizing it. Wait a minute, how much loss did he have last month? Mansik belatedly recalled his financial situation. 

 

 

“Why?” 

 

 

“Well, you know. If you stay here, you can enjoy the plays you like to your heart’s content.” 

 

 

“Why are you helping me? Since yesterday.” 

 

 

“I’m not doing you a favor, kid. I need a new part-timer since my last one quit. Are you any good at what you do?” 

 

 

“Do you have a lot of money, mister?” 

 

 

Unable to lie, Man-sik coughed awkwardly. 

 

 

“Seeing you always scratching your head like that, you don’t seem like you have money to give me.” 

 

 

“Why? Worried I might take your money or something?” 

 

 

“Yes.” 

 

 

“This kid. I’ll work my ass off to make sure you get paid, even if I have to do your job myself. Don’t worry about a thing.” 

 

 

Mansik recalled the events from two days ago. 

 

 

“I may not remember everything the boy said, and it was still impossible to prove, but the feelings from that time still linger.” 

 

 

He couldn’t let such a kid rot away at a construction site. Everyone has their designated place. The boy seemed more fitting here than there. 

 

 

No, the theater that he had considered his everything now seemed pitiful. Even if the boy were to accept his proposal, Mansik couldn’t dare to predict how far the boy would rise in the future. 

 

 

In fact, when you think about it, it might be a loss for him in the immediate moment. However, he couldn’t bring himself to give up. Mansik wanted to keep this kid by his side. 

 

 

Why am I going to such lengths?’ 

 

 

Junwoo was trying to understand Mansik’s intention. He knew there was no real need for a part-time job. Typically, one would be suspicious of such unfounded kindness. He couldn’t help but recall the countless misdeeds he had committed in his past life. However, Mansik didn’t evoke such feelings in him. It’s hard to explain. If he had to be taken advantage of, Mansik didn’t seem like the kind of person who would exploit others. 

 

 

He did need a suitable job at the moment. However, more than that, there was something in Mansik’s words that tickled Junwoo’s heart. 

 

 

“But what I mentioned earlier.” 

 

 

“Earlier?” 

 

 

“Do you watch plays even during part-time jobs?” 

 

 

Junwoo’s mind was already made up. 

 

 

*** 

 

 

“Hmm. Are you more meticulous than I thought?” 

 

 

Mansik was hungry. Leaning against a pillar, he shook his legs. 

 

 

It had already been a week since the boy started working here. 

 

 

Earlier, when he noticed that the props in the practice room located underground were a bit disorganized, he roughly instructed to tidy them up on one side. 

 

 

Mansik had been waiting for the boy to have dinner together since earlier. However, it seemed like there was no sign of him coming out for the past three hours. 

 

 

Is he obsessive-compulsive? Even so, this was a bit too much. 

 

 

Unable to bear it any longer, Mansik headed downstairs. 

 

 

Swish. 

 

 

“Hey, when are you goi...!” 

 

 

Mansik froze in his tracks. The scene before him was a complete mess. 

 

 

Despite telling him to clean up, props were scattered all over the place. Shelves were knocked over on the floor. 

 

 

Amidst the chaos, old scripts that should have been neatly stored were piled up in a heap on one side. 

 

 

In a word, it was complete chaos. 

 

 

Mansik’s head was spinning. 

 

 

Junwoo, who was huddled in the middle of the chaos, looked up. 

 

 

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